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Restaurants & Bars 10

My trip to Sunset Park and some questions

MB fka MB | Jan 27, 200810:57 AM

Took the maiden voyage to Sunset Park yesterday--it is AWESOME! Getting off the N train at 8th Ave and walking up was so much fun. When it's warmer I'll definitely spend much more time.

I bought some provisions at the Turkish market:

turkish bread - the shape/thicknes of focaccia, light, yeasty and topped with caraway seeds. Nice but it dries out very very fast.

turkish "hallumi" - not at all as good as middle eastern brands/varieties. it's doesn't fry up nicely (melts too easily and soaks up too much oil) also doesn't have that squeaky bite that regular haloumi has.

lovely looking dried fava beans for $1.49/lb. bulgur, rice, etc. were all mostly $0.99/lb. (FWIW this is the same price as D'Vine Taste in Park Slope).

pre-packaged Turkish Delight was a huge disappointment. Next time I might ask for a recommendation to see if there is a preferred brand.

Meat in the butcher case looks amazing and they even had a goat head that was sticking it's tongue out at me.

there were a lot of Chinese bakeries and early on I stopped in at one that had delicious looking chicken cutlet sandwiches. People were outside enjoying them and later I couldn't remember where I had seen them. Should have scored one on the first pass!

I lunched at Gia Lam (5414 8th Ave). I saw Nha Trang Palace, but was wary because I tried Nha Trang in Manhattan and found the pho to be rather terrible. WAY too fatty/heavy of a broth without such a complex flavor. Anyway, I loved the pho at Gia Lam. I've not tried many different types of pho (most of my experience in Boston) but this is hands down my favorite so far. The broth was light with real depth of flavor. Noodles seemed fresher somehow, too. I liked that all the sprouts/basil were freshly washed. It was served with lemon rather than lime? I had some Vietnamese spring rolls, too, with the lettuce wrappers. a little too fishy for me, and they almost looked like a weird sausage wrapped in a spring roll skin then fried? hmmmm? also, a salty lemon soda was fantastic. all this for only $10 pre tax. wow.

I also stopped in at a Polish market much further up 8th ave (maybe around 46th or so?). the meat counter looked amazing. they had about 6 different keilbasa offerings, including a blood sausage, 2 smoked varieties and 2 garlic. I also bought (but haven't tried) what might be some head cheese. also bought an absolutely lovely looking piece of slab bacon. interesting dairy offerings (lots of flavored kefir), new to me cheeses. counter service was pleasant, considering I have zero knowledge of polish food, the woman that helped me was certainly patient. across the street there is a polish "deli" but I didn't end up checking it out.

On the way back I headed to Thanh Da to get a bahn mi. Well, I have to say, I think they suck. unfortunately that's not based on the food, because the service was so rude. I was first to order and then 3 more people came in. the counter help delivered all of their orders and then told me that they were all out of what I had ordered. grrrrr. If you tell me these are worth it, I'll try it again, but otherwise, forget it!

My questions:
Do you have any bakery recommendations out there, esp. for savory items?
Are there favorite markets? for produce? for meat? for fish?
Where in Sunset Park is the latino area? Or am I mistaken?
Do you have a favorite bahn mi recommendation in the neighborhood? Is it as good as Saigon Sandwich Shop in Manhattan (Mott @ Grand IIRC)

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